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Lawsuit may be option for patients infected with hepatitis C

It's only natural to worry about our doctor's making mistakes. When being treated, it is important and potentially life-saving to be on the lookout for hospital or doctor negligence. But rarely do New Yorkers consider the possibility of a medical professional acting maliciously toward patients and doing the exact opposite of providing care.

Former patients at a hospital in New Hampshire are now facing this realization. Twenty-five former patients are having their blood tested after officials released some shocking allegations. A medical technician at the hospital stands accused of infecting the patients with hepatitis C.

The man allegedly used syringes to inject himself with anesthetic drugs stolen from the lab of a different hospital. His actions contaminated the syringes that were later used on patients. As of now, there have been thirty hepatitis C diagnoses for those patients.

The hospital in New Hampshire employed the man as a lab technician for a little over a year in 2007 and 2008. The 25 patients being asked to undergo testing for hepatitis C participated in a lab procedure that offered free blood testing. The accused man worked there during the time of this procedure.

There is no record of the man working at any other hospitals. He is currently under arrest.

This story brings to light a scary possibility that many of us probably don't consider when undergoing medical care. Whether or not the man knowingly exposed others at risk of a serious disease or whether he just acted negligently, the affected patients likely have a strong case against the technician. Infected patients may also be able to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital that employed the man. Hospitals are held to a certain standard of care and if the facility failed in its duty to the patients in any way the patients may be able to recover damages or medical expenses.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Blood tests for former patients at NY hospital," Associated Press, July 26, 2012

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